Newton County’s Mitchell resigns

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

Newton County is officially looking for a new football coach.

After four years of leading the Cougars, head coach Gene Mitchell stepped down after the season due to health reasons.

Mitchell was diagnosed with cancer last year but coached through the season.

“I just came to the realization that I have to deal with my health and I can’t do both,” Mitchell said. “We were at UAB on Friday and the next six months will be crucial to the treatment. I will spend three to four weeks in Birmingham doing a bone transplant. This wasn’t the path that I would have chosen. But it is the path that God has taken me. As hard as it is to stay, I can’t do this and coach at the same time.”

Mitchell said he was expecting to be back at Newton County in some capacity when school starts in the fall.

“I have been assured by all of the administrators that there will be something for me to do,” Mitchell said. “I do plan on being back at school in August in some capacity when school starts. They have assured me that I would be taken care of. They have been very good to me through all of this.”

The Cougars were 1-10 this season in Mitchell’s fourth season at Newton County. His best year was 2015 when Newton County was 6-5. It was Mitchell’s 18th year as a head coach and he ends with a record of 132-110 overall but was just 14-30 at Newton County.

“There is no doubt that God led me to this decision and I don’t think God would ever take a coach out of his situation if he didn’t have somebody ready to be put there,” Mitchell said. “it just needs to be covered with prayer that they put the right person there.”

Newton County posted the job on the MHSAA web site on Friday and Athletics Director Justin Chaney will be leading the search committee.

Superintendent of Education J.O. Amis said the school board accepted Mitchell’s resignation at Thursday night’s board meeting.

“We accepted his resignation on Thursday and posted the job on Friday,” Amis said. “We will take applications until we get it filled. We would like to have somebody by Christmas but I don’t know if that’s practical. We are probably looking at having somebody around the first of February. I hope we have a good pool of applicants. I know I have taken several phone calls and Coach Chaney has taken some. We certainly have a lot of people talking about it.”

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